Tuesday 16 January 2018

Quarter-final the yardstick for Ulster to see off Tigers

Ulster's Rory Best in action during squad training
Ulster's Rory Best in action during squad training

Denis Leamy

It was a very good weekend for the Irish provinces with all four of them winning again in the Heineken Cup.

That has happened a few times now in the past few seasons and it is great to see Connacht stepping up and making their mark in the competition.

The key to their success has been in the number of young players that they have developed themselves.

Three wins from five is a fair haul in the pool and they head to Saracens with something to play for.

You wouldn't be backing them in that one but then you recall what they did away to Toulouse and realise you can't dismiss them.

Ulster got past an understrength Montpellier without setting the world alight. They have won five from five but the real test will be in Welford Road this weekend.

CONTENDERS

A win there will guarantee a home quarter-final but, more importantly, lay down a marker they are genuine contenders.

They shouldn't be daunted by going to Leicester Tigers. They certainly weren't put out coming to Thomond a couple of years ago in the quarter-finals and this game at Welford Road really is the sort of fixture they need to win if they are to move to the next level.

Leinster showed again at the weekend that they will be right in the mix. They gave the French champions a 14-0 start and yet ran out convincing winners in Castres.

They are moving well and will rightly feel that they can make a big bid for another European title this season.

There is no doubt the provinces are in a good place at the moment.

Irish Independent

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